51 Pattern Shoulder Braces

Generally the 51 pattern webbing set was a well thought out system that drew on the best practices of both Britain and the US, it did however have some weaker design features and amongst the poorer design choices were the shoulder braces:imageIn basic form these are clearly heavily inspired by Mills designs for the 19, 25 and 37 pattern sets, with one of the two having a small loop for the other to pass through:imageThey have the same one inch ends, increasing to 2” over the shoulders but instead of being made from a single reduction woven strap, or separate components, the shoulder braces are instead produced from a piece of 2” wide, thin webbing which has been folded over and sewn on the ends:imageThis then gives the required strength at both ends, where the tips are finished with a blackened brass chape:imageHowever the middle part of the strap, where it passes over the shoulder, is only a single layer of thin webbing:imageThis seems a particular weak point of the set as this area is flimsy and would wear out far faster than if a more robust design, such as that used by Canada in WW2, had been chosen. One does wonder why this design choice was made, and the only reason I can think of was to save money, as this must have been a cheaper design to produce, even if it was far weaker structurally.

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